UK Home Secretary says Government wants to help Christian forced marriage and conversion victim

Maira Shahbaz. (Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)

The UK Home Secretary says the Government is looking at ways to help a Pakistani Christian girl who was abducted, forced to marry a Muslim man, and convert to Islam. 

Sir Edward Leigh asked about the action being taken by the Government on the case of Maira Shahbaz during oral questions in Parliament on Monday. 

Responding, Priti Patel she would be "very happy" to meet Sir Edward and the Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need, which has been supporting Shahbaz since her escape. 

"My right honourable friend raises this incredibly important case and in fact I have been working with colleagues in the House on this case for a considerable period of time," she said. 

She added, "There have been some barriers in the past around this case but I do want to give assurance to my right honourable friend that we are proactively looking at all the help we can provide."

Maira Shahbaz, now 15, was bundled into a car at gunpoint while walking near her home in Madina Town, Punjab province, in April 2020. 

She says her abductor, a middle-aged man, forced her to marry him and convert to Islam. While in captivity she says she was drugged and repeatedly raped, and that her abductor recorded the abuse in order to blackmail her. 

She managed to escape but was forced to go into hiding because of threats against her life for supposedly being an apostate. 

Commenting on her case in Parliament, Sir Edward said: "Maira is a 15-year-old Christian from Pakistan, raped, abducted... and now in hiding. We need to help her."

Last year, an ACN petition calling on Boris Johnson to grant Maira asylum was signed by more than 12,000 people. 

The petition was received by Fiona Bruce MP, who said at the time that the case was "tragic" and promised to present it to the Home Secretary "for her urgent consideration". 

In February, over 30 parliamentarians, bishops and human rights advocates signed an open letter again urging the Prime Minister to consider asylum for Maira. 

ACN UK National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: "It is urgent that the Prime Minister acts to save the lives of Maira and her family. They are in grave danger."